Protesting too much: Pakistan’s pro-Taliban military

The sadest part of these new reports of Pakistan’s complicity with Taliban is that they are not new. We have heard this for years. And Pakistan has been denying it for years. RLC

Australian Broadcasting System: a program on today.
http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/asiapac/stories/201006/s2926669.htm

Pakistan angry over Taliban support claims
Updated June 14, 2010 18:57:36

Pakistan has responded angrily to renewed allegations that its military intelligence agency, the ISI, is actively supporting Taliban militants in Afghanistan – and on a much larger scale than previously thought. The report, commissioned by the London School of Economics, says Taliban field commanders that it interviewed, suggested that ISI intelligence agents even attended Taliban Supreme Council meetings. The report follows one of the deadliest weeks for NATO troops in Afghanistan, with over thirty soldiers killed. [more …]
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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article7149515.ece

From The Times
June 14, 2010
Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence accused of directly funding Taleban
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent

Pakistan’s military intelligence agency directly funds and trains the Afghan Taleban and is officially represented on its leadership council, according to a report by a British academic. The study, published by the London School of Economics, also alleges that Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, met Taleban leaders imprisoned in Pakistan and promised them early release and future support.

Pakistan dismissed the report by Matt Waldman, a Harvard fellow who interviewed current and former members of the Taleban, as “baseless” and “naive”. A spokesman for the Pakistani Army said that the state’s commitment to opposing the Taleban was demonstrated by the number of soldiers killed fighting on the Afghan border.

Western officials and analysts have often accused elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of supporting the Afghan Taleban, even as its army combats the Pakistani Taleban on the northwestern frontier.

However, Mr Waldman’s report goes further, arguing that support for the Afghan Taleban is “official ISI policy” and is backed at the highest levels of Pakistan’s civilian administration. “Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude,” the report says. “There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign,” it said. “Without a change in Pakistani behaviour it will be difficult if not impossible for international forces and the Afghan Government to make progress against the insurgency.”

The ISI helped to create the Taleban in the early 1990s, principally to prevent its arch-rival, India, from gaining a strategic foothold in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Soviet troops. It claims to have severed all links with the Islamist movement but remains determined to prevent a pro-Indian government from taking power in Kabul after Nato troops leave.

The report follows one of the bloodiest weeks for foreign troops in Afghanistan, with 30 Nato soldiers killed, and the announcement of a two to three-month delay in a counter-insurgency operation in Kandahar — the Taleban’s stronghold.

It also comes a few days after Amrullah Saleh, who resigned as head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service last week, described the ISI as “part of the landscape of destruction in this country”.

Mr Waldman worked in Afghanistan for two and a half years as Head of Policy and Advocacy for Oxfam and is now a fellow of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He advised the Liberal Democrats on defence and foreign affairs from 2004 to 2006.

His study carries weight because it was based on interviews with nine Taleban field commanders and ten former senior Taleban officials, as well as Afghan elders and politicians, foreign diplomats and security officials. The ISI “provides huge support in terms of training, funding, munitions, and supplies”, the Taleban field commanders are quoted as saying.

Major-General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s military spokesman, described the report as ridiculous and “part of a campaign against the Pakistan Army and the ISI”.